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Almirola, Bowyer buoyed by SHR’s ‘top to bottom’ passion for racing

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Clint Bowyer’s excited to be coming into Saturday’s race at Kansas — a place he calls “God’s country” — on a hot streak, and his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola says his confidence level is an 8.

Success is breeding success at SHR with all four teams in the top 11 in points and Harvick hunting back-to-back wins in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ KC Masterpiece 400 (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio).

Almirola says hard work is translating into on-track performance because Stewart-Haas is a different kind of team. He would know.

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“I’ve been at a lot of organizations fortunately and unfortunately in my career, so I’ve gotten to see some of the good, bad and the ugly of each organization,” the No. 10 driver said before practice Friday at Kansas Speedway. “I’ve been a part of Joe Gibbs Racing. I’ve been affiliated with Hendrick through JR Motorsports and the six weeks that I spent working with Jimmie Johnson on that baby duty deal that I did there. I’ve been a part of DEI. I’ve been a part of RPM and through RPM I’ve gotten to work with Roush.

“So I’ve seen a lot of the garage area and the one thing that stands out to me the most at Stewart-Haas Racing is that from top to bottom the passion for just racing in general is unbelievable.”

In addition to unparalleled drive, Almirola says camaraderie sets SHR apart.

“Everybody wants to just pull their weight and that’s something that’s rare in this industry because this industry is a very dog-eat-dog world and that’s just not the case at SHR,” Almirola explained. “Everybody is there to pull their own weight and to do the best that they can at their job to try and help make their part of the race car go faster, and that collective effort, I think, is what has Stewart-Haas Racing on top right now.”

Team owner Tony Stewart, long one of NASCAR’s most passionate competitors, has full confidence in Almirola as he strives to get that first win in the No. 10.

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“I want to win and we’re only 11 races in,” Almirola said. “So Tony has been just a very calming voice. He’s been like, ‘Be patient. Your time is coming.’ ”

Bowyer’s time is here again, feeding that team-wide confidence as well. The last time he was sitting fifth or higher in the standings was September 2013. A win at Martinsville and a runner-up finish to teammate Kevin Harvick last week at Dover puts the No. 14 team fifth in the standings and in an overly positive mindset of thinking about where the next win will come, not when the next win will come.

“Things are finally gelling and working the way they’re supposed to work at a multi-car team,” Bowyer said Friday. “Having all four cars running well up front for our partners on the side of the cars, our manufacturer, it just speaks volumes about everybody pushing in the same direction and the adjustments we made in the offseason and putting a year under our belts and learning from that.”

Kurt Busch is knocking on the door of a win, too, with a runner-up finish at Talladega. The No. 41 has speed, starting in the front two rows four times in the season’s first 11 races. Busch sits at No. 6 in the standings entering Saturday’s race.